My Addiction Recovery Story – The Beginning
| I was a selfish person, emotionally numb, and self-centered – in the sense that I believe to my core that everything should be handed to me. I was the youngest of the three brothers and grew up protected by two older brothers and a successful dad that gave me everything a kid could ask for. Yet here I stood in an orange jumpsuit in front of a judge with my loving parents sitting in a courtroom with disbelief in their eyes. I could see their disgust and love. They officially were powerless over how to save their son. I was once again arrested for drinking and driving.
As the arrests piled up, the shame was insurmountable. This was no longer a “phase”. This was an issue that bled through my whole family, community, and self-care. Believing that I was only harming myself was a lie that I believed down to my core. Lying to myself was nothing new to me. I told lies to everyone for the game of it. I was honing my craft of being a dishonest person. No matter the consequence, even when telling the truth was easier, I clung to the fact that I could I get out of any situation by creating a story in my head and becoming a classic story teller. I lived in a fantasy world growing up. The stories that I made up in my head I viewed as truth. For every dream, there needs to be action to achieve it. Quitting became natural to me.
College Drinking as a Solution
I was eighteen years old at college, on my own. The hooting and hollering was noticeable that first night. I walked down the hall to the common area where guys were gathered around a table with beer cans and liquor bottles taking up most of the space on the table. Drinking was not something I ever did up to this point, but I knew I couldn’t let anyone know that. I was welcomed by the guys as they made room at the table for me. Little did I know that sitting down at that table would change the course of my life forever.
Feeling ‘Normal’ While Drinking and Drugging
I quickly realized that alcohol and drugs made me feel “normal”. I failed out of college, went back to college. Failed out of college again, and went back to college again. I floundered around life with a bottle as my compass. I got arrested several times, was bailed out of consequences, and went right back to drugs and alcohol. I spent several years in my twenties on “house arrest” as I moved into my parent’s basement and worked for my dad. Not having a driver’s license, being on house arrest, and/or watching the consequences pile up was no match for my addiction. I could not imagine life without drugs and alcohol.
By 2008, I was having thoughts that I may be better off leaving this world then to keep floundering in life. I was told that I was going to long term treatment. I did not fight it. My mom had packed me a care package, in it was a journal book.
I was shattered as a person and completely lost as a person. I opened that journal book on my first night in long term treatment and wrote words that I will never forget.
“Here I sit in long term treatment. I am not sure if I don’t want to be here in treatment, or if I do not want to be here on Earth. I am going to stay here till I can figure it out”. That was October 19, 2008, and I have not had a drink or a drug since.
What I came to realize, is that drugs and alcohol were just a hurtful solution for me. It was not just me that I was hurting, it was everyone that I had encountered. Vulnerability, authenticity, and connection are three things that I have built my long-term recovery on. I never learned how to find a connection to anyone, or anything growing up.
I grew up in a loving, supportive home but I never could feel connected. That connection was never made due to never feeling connected to myself. Once I was able to get a connection to myself, to feel comfortable in my own skin, I was able to feel connected to other people.
To get that connection I had to become vulnerable. Now all I knew about vulnerability was that it was a sign of weakness, or so I thought. It never came natural, and it never came quickly. It started with a heart to heart conversation with a dog in long term treatment led to being open and honest with my counselor. Once I became somewhat vulnerable, people could finally see the authentic me.
Recovery Hope and Service to Others
My life today is built on providing hope and help to the hopeless and helpless like I was once before. As each day passes, I get more and more connected to myself and to others. Recovery has always came first in my life since I started my journey utilizing the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I still wake up with thoughts of “I am not worthy” and “I am not good enough” but recovery has given me the tools to deal with those thoughts. I walk through life today comfortable with the person that I have become and that is due to getting vulnerable with those around me. Being an alcoholic and addict is no longer shameful to me, and I refuse to hide my scars that have made me the person that I am today. I continue to pray for the courage to be vulnerable, which leads to me becoming more and more authentic. I no longer play one of the many characters that addiction forced me to be which allows me to get connected to myself and to others. I now know the meaning of “Be who you are”. Long term recovery gave me that.
Jay Staples is an established speaker and presenter. He has spoken at jails, schools, conferences, and recovery events all over the country. If you are interested in having Jay speak or present, please click on the link below.